Considering everything he has said and done (and not done) – a list far too long for this article – former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a person who manages to provoke a wild array of opinions, many of which, perhaps understandably, , negative. That said, a movie titled kill Boris Johnson is one that will probably raise at least a few eyebrows.
The short film – part of Cannes’ La Cinef selection – comes from director Musa Alderson-Clarke and producer Solomon Golding, recent graduates of the UK’s National Film and Television School, and shows that it is the only British student film to be the cinema has been shown. at this year’s festival (selected from over 2,000 entries). It is also perhaps the only film that, as the name suggests, has the death of a head of state and a current politician who remains very much alive as its central topic of conversation.
“It’s inspired by my own life,” says Alderson-Clarke, clarifying — perhaps needlessly — that it’s not really based on his own life. Conceived at the height of the COVID pandemic, kill Boris Johnson follows the inner turmoil of Kaz (Shadrach Agozino), whose emotional state has been turned upside down by the actions of the Johnson administration while strict COVID restrictions were in place. In the wake of the infamous ‘Partygate’ scandal, during an investigation that revealed Johnson had attended illegal lockdown parties on Downing Street while others were told they couldn’t even attend the funerals of their own loved ones, Kaz decides that Johnson must be held accountable and devises a plan to kill him.
“I was processing my own grief at the time,” says Alderson-Clarke, whose mother died during the pandemic. “I was annoyed with Boris Johnson, annoyed with the arrogance of it all and wanted to make a movie that captured that feeling.”
As a working-class man, Alderson-Clarke says Johnson’s seemingly extralegal actions have led to a “sense of disenfranchisement”. And the Partygate revelations “put a nail in a coffin… how this guy felt like he could get away with whatever he wanted and had that level of entitlement.”
While the film’s title may be one of the most notable at Cannes, kill Boris Johnson deals less with the murderous act per se, and instead presents a thought-provoking exploration of grief, anger and responsibility as seen through the eyes of the would-be assassin.
“It’s about this guy’s emotional journey,” he says. “I think people expect something when they go in and I would like them to have experienced something different again. That’s the goal.”
As can be expected, kill Boris Johnson has provoked some angry reactions from people who have not yet seen the film, some even demanding legal action against the makers. And it’s something that Alderson-Clarke applauds.
“I think it’s important for people to talk about it because I’m open to different perspectives and viewpoints on what the movie means,” he says, adding that he hopes the movie takes people out of their echo chambers, including his own.
“The left only hangs out with the left and wants to hear points of view from the left, and that’s kind of supported by algorithms and social media,” he says. “But if this film puts me in a conversation with someone who might have a different political point of view than I do, then I think that’s a good thing because what happened to Boris Johnson ultimately didn’t just affect the left. It affected everyone in the country.